Google has built a pair of headphones that can translate foreign languages in real time.
The Pixel Buds are like a real-world equivalent of the Babel fish, the famous fictional creature from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
They both translate and enable you to speak in foreign languages, and worked incredibly impressively in a demo at Google’s launch event this week, enabling an English speaker to hold a smooth conversation with a Swedish speaker.
“It’s like you’ve got your own personal translator with you everywhere you go,” says Google.
“Say you’re in Little Italy, and you want to order your pasta like a pro. All you have to do is hold down on the right earbud and say, ‘Help me speak Italian’. As you talk, your Pixel phone’s speaker will play the translation in Italian out loud. When the waiter responds in Italian, you’ll hear the translation through your Pixel Buds.”
The wireless earphones will support 40 languages when they come out next month, costing £159.
They’ll be available in Just Black, Clearly White and Kinda Blue colour schemes, just like the Pixel 2.
They can, of course, play music too, and feature a wireless touchpad on the right earbud, which you can swipe to adjust volume, fast-forward or rewind, and play and pause audio.
Google says they’re compatible with Pixel and Android phones running version 7.0 Nougat or higher.
There are several other language translation earphones available on the market, such as Waverly Labs’ Pilot Translating Earpiece and the Translate One2One, but the Pixel buds have a huge advantage over those because Google Translate is trusted, and has an enormous user base.